Her Dark Curiosity by Megan Shepherd
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publishing Date: 28 January 2014
Age Level: Young Adult
Source: eARC from NetGalley
Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound
To defeat the darkness, she must first embrace it.
Months have passed since Juliet Moreau returned to civilization after escaping her father's island—and the secrets she left behind. Now, back in London once more, she is rebuilding the life she once knew and trying to forget Dr. Moreau’s horrific legacy—though someone, or something, hasn’t forgotten her.
As people close to Juliet fall victim one by one to a murderer who leaves a macabre calling card of three clawlike slashes, Juliet fears one of her father’s creations may have also escaped the island. She is determined to find the killer before Scotland Yard does, though it means awakening sides of herself she had thought long banished, and facing loves from her past she never expected to see again.
As Juliet strives to stop a killer while searching for a serum to cure her own worsening illness, she finds herself once more in the midst of a world of scandal and danger. Her heart torn in two, past bubbling to the surface, life threatened by an obsessive killer—Juliet will be lucky to escape alive.
With inspiration from Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, this is a tantalizing mystery about the hidden natures of those we love and how far we’ll go to save them from themselves.
About a year ago, my book club decided to read The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd. I had my reservations - as it promised to be quite creepy and likely to make me have nightmares - but I put those reservations aside and dove in. Boy am I glad I did! The Madman's Daughter is one of my top favorite books of 2013. Needless to say, when I had the opportunity to review the sequel, I jumped at the chance. I can't tell you how happy I am that Her Dark Curiosity is just as deliciously dark and captivating as the previous book. Since this is a review for a sequel, I will warn that there may be spoilers for the first book.
The second installment of Juliet's story finds our heroine back in London, the ward of an old colleague of her father's, Professor von Stein. When she first arrived in London, she was sick and practically wild from all that she had to deal with on her father's island. She still feels betrayed by Montgomery, remorse over Edward's death and guilt over her father's murder, which makes the kindly Professor kind of the perfect guardian for her. I really loved how Megan Shepherd didn't hide how difficult a time Juliet was having, even with the new and safe lifestyle she has now. Juliet still suffers greatly from the illness brought on by the surgery/experiments her father did to her when she was a child. She's determined to find a cure once and for all, so she's rented a little apartment in a fairly seedy neighborhood to conduct experiments, without having to alert the Professor or "polite society" of what she's up to.
Conflict comes for our girl when she hears about a murderer running rampant through the streets of London. The authorities, led by Scotland Yard's Detective Newcastle, believe it might be the work of a mass murderer; but only Juliet sees that the victims might not be so random. For those who have read the first book, you're sure to recognize the distinct type of wound the killer leaves on the victim. As the reader, I knew full well who the murderer was, but I still loved being able to see all the clues and bits come together to solve this mystery. It was incredibly exciting - and nerve-wracking - to go along with Juliet as she picks up clues and tries to discover the true identity of the murder, whilst trying to avoid him as well. I really enjoyed getting to see more of her friend, Lucy, as she tries to help Juliet solve another mystery that pops up as well. (Man! It's so hard trying not to be spoilery! I think I'll leave a little tidbit of a spoiler somewhere on this post... let's see if anyone spots it.)
One of the more brilliant parts of this novel was how the author utilized the story of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in multiple ways. First, you have the dual personalities of the murderer, known as the Wolf of Whitechapel. That one, I believe, is quite obvious as a type of Jekyll and Hyde scenario. The more genius usage of this story, however, comes by showing the two conflicting sides of Juliet. She's battling with her primal, wild, animal side against her logical, sweet, human side. It was so heartbreaking to see the inner struggle that Juliet faces, now that she's fully aware of that second side to herself. I can't even imagine what it must be like to have those two conflicting personalities trying to become the dominant one. What a headache! But boy, what a great storytelling tool.
Just like in The Madman's Daughter, Megan Shepherd's beautiful writing style and storytelling skills make this novel shine. The woman sure knows how to turn a phrase and she paints such a vivid picture, you feel as though you're right in middle of the story watching it all unfold. Though I enjoyed the writing quite a lot, I did find that some spots dragged on a little more that seemed necessary. I was also confused and totally thrown off by one certain action of Juliet's (I'm sure you'll know what I'm talking about when you read it), but overall I really felt like her character was real. I just really like Juliet! She's pretty kick butt, even with all the horrors of the past and present threatening to drown her. I was able to predict one of the major twists, but I still loved getting to watch Juliet discover it for herself. With new and intriguing characters to help populate this macabre world, along with old familiar faces, Her Dark Curiosity is a solid sequel in a thrilling series.
So, The Madman's Daughter showed us a different side of The Island of Dr. Moreau. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was the very fitting inspiration for Her Dark Curiosity. I simply can't wait to see what madness the author delivers in the third and final installment, which is inspired by... Frankenstein! Bring it on, Megan Shepherd. Bring it on.
A favorite quote: "Everything about Edward spoke of a different world, one richer in detail somehow, as though the waking world was merely a dream and he the only thing clear in it."